Last year, Honda gave the Odyssey a makeover, and Basem covered it for us. I decided to spend a week in the 2012 Honda Odyssey and see for myself whether or not it was improved over the 2010 edition that I drove the year before. The 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite carries a base price of $43,825 ($44,485 as tested), with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and EPA estimates of 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway. Let's drive.
I am not minivan averse, not in the least. I have owned a few in my day, even though I've never had children, and my family consists of myself, my wife and our dogs and cats. The minivan is often the best tool for the job, and it's a shame that it has fallen out of favor. Honda's Odyssey has always been a top seller and a top performer. Auto manufacturers cannot rest on their accomplishments; they are compelled to constantly change and hopefully improve their offerings in order to maintain consumer interest. So, the already successful Honda Odyssey got a makeover last year for the 2011 model year. The 2012 Odyssey returns with just minor tweaks and packaging changes.
If there's one consistent comment about Honda, it's that they are conservative when it comes time to make changes. The latest Odyssey represents an evolutionary change over the previous generation. The good news is that the Odyssey continues to deliver, and hasn't gone all quirky like the Nissan Quest did in its recent makeover. Functionality is maintained from top to bottom, inside and out. Odyssey has a sleek (for a minivan) silhouette, and gives an elegant impression on the road. Inside, the usual array of cup holders, trays, bins and other conveniences abound. The center stack is pure minivan, with the gear selector mounted up high, the navigation/telematics screen all the way at the top and a lot of buttons -- over 28, by my count, plus redundant controls on the steering wheel, all designed to provide simple operation. This proliferation of controls could use a bit of rethinking.
Driving the Odyssey reminds me of why I bought a minivan in the first place. The minivan's low center of gravity delivers surprisingly nimble handling, and the Odyssey's direct steering feel is confidence-inspiring and -- dare I say it -- fun. Power from the 3.5-liter V6 is adequate at 248 hp, and the pleasantly throaty exhaust note is a distinct bonus when you stomp on the go-pedal. Decent braking hauls the Odyssey to a stop. Handling might be better if there were an all-wheel drive option available, but there's not. Hmmm, I wonder why?
You can count the competition for Odyssey on one hand: Toyota's Sienna, the Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country/Volkswagen Routan. Nissan's Quest is too wacky and dysfunctional; the Mazda5 is great, but not nearly as big and luxurious. Drive them all before you make a decision.
If you decide to buy a Honda Odyssey, you'll get an excellent minivan with loads of cargo space, excellent handling, and fantastic amenities. Presumably, you've already got a wife and kids, so you don't need to worry about anything else. Let the other guys drive their big SUVs and sexy sports cars. You're the king of the minivan. Be proud of that.
- Quiet and luxurious.
- Family friendly.
- Relatively fuel efficient.
- Immediate emasculation.
- It's a minivan.
Details and specs:
- Base prices: $28,375 (LX); $31,625 (EX); $35,025 (EX-L); $41,330 (Touring); $43,825 (Touring Elite)
- Engine: 3.5-liter V6
- Horsepower: 248 @ 5,700 rpm
- Torque: 250 @ 4,800 rpm
- Transmission: 5-speed automatic (LX, EX); 6-speed automatic (Touring, Touring Elite) with front-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway (LX, EX); 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway (Touring, Touring Elite)
- Wheelbase: 118.1" Vehicle Length: 202.9" Width: 79.2" Height: 68.4"
- Curb Weight: 4,337 - 4,560 lbs
- Cargo: 38.4 cubic feet behind third row; 93.1 cubic feet behind second row; 148.5 cubic feet behind first row.
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles basic; 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain